Alweendo revokes lithium mining licence

Tom Alweendo

Minister of mines and energy Tom Alweendo has revoked the lithium mining licence issued to Xinfeng Investments on 6 September last year for exclusive prospecting near Omaruru.

The licence was to run until 2042.

This follows a demonstration by the Daures community, farmers, and small miners against what they claim were illegal lithium mining activities of Tangshan XingFeng Spodumene Mining.

The company has been accused of not following proper channels and procedures, and contravening the Environmental Management Act.

In a letter dated 28 April addressed to a Chinese-owned company and seen by The Namibian, Alweendo explained the decision was made after Xinfeng was found to have deliberately included misleading, untrue, and incorrect information during the application process.

This, Alweendo said, is despite having been given the opportunity to explain the misleading information.
Xinfeng’s explanations have failed to prove the information was truthful, correct, and not misleading, he said.

The minister said the explanations given by Xinfeng in both their written and oral representations have not shown that certain information was indeed truthful.

Alweendo said there was no intention by the company not to mislead the minister in granting licence ML 243.

“In fact, same confirmed the fraudulent nature of the information on which the decision to grant the aforementioned licence was premised. The misleading, untrue and incorrect information as was pointed out was a material and relevant consideration in deciding whether to grant ML 243,” he said.

As part of Xinfeng’s operations in December the company submitted a revised work programme for ML 243 on 3 November.
However, upon evaluation, it was noted that the mining and ore treatment methods remained the same as submitted in the initial licence application.

During the evaluation of the company’s technical report, the Minerals Licensing Advisory Committee (MLAC) also established that all the information provided was misleading and not a true reflection of the exploration work carried out on exclusive prospecting licence (EPL) 7228, from which ML 243 originated.

In light of the decision to revoke the licence, Xinfeng has been instructed to cease all operations related to ML 243 in EPL 7228 area by 31 May this year.

The company is also required to surrender the physical licence document to mining commissioner Isabella Chirchir on the same date.

It is not clear how the licence application was granted when evaluations were done by the MLAC, which consists of six people.
Questions sent to Chirchir via WhatsApp have not been responded to at the time of going to print.

Xinfeng spokesperson Aqisha Jooste did not respond to questions sent to her either.

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